If its treatment of VA for accountability were any indication, I would flatly say ‘no’. Congress is like a guard dog with no teeth, and they make the decision to stay that way at the beginning of every hearing.
Is honest testimony on behalf of veterans in exchange for 15 seconds to administer an oath worth it? Yes.
To borrow the vernacular of an attorney I met recently, Congress needs to grow a pair and stand up for veterans. If they all really Gave a Shit about us, things would not be the way they are, right?
Currently, all we see are a bunch of lawmakers grandstanding before VA for sound bytes. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. Because they are sound bytes, VA does not take them, Congress or those hearings, seriously.
How do I know that? I spoke with a VA executive recently who literally told me VA views Congressional Hearings as nothing more than sound bytes. The headlines work us up but the real deal does nothing more give those lawmakers a chance to act like they Give a Shit.
I looked up the definition of “Give a Shit” today. The Wiktionary says it means, “To care, to have or to show an interest.” Okay, so maybe Congress on the aggregate does Give a Shit by showing interest to get great sound bytes. But maybe we should expect more from our lawmakers than to merely “show an interest.”
Instead, would it be at least reasonable to expect Congress to at least swear in VA officials who testify? They used to, but the practice stopped in the 80’s for undisclosed reasons. Now, Congress only threatens VA with swearing them in. This is bizarre.
When it comes to sports and athletes, Congress has no problem swearing in these multi millionaires for fear that they might lie on the stand. They justify this action because Congress somehow thinks defending the integrity of American sports is a government interest. Dot dot dot.
By that reasoning, Congress apparently does not think it is a government interest to police itself when it comes to the treatment of VA or the spending of American tax dollars by that same agency. After all, if they did, they would swear in those same VA (and sometimes DoD) officials responsible for blowing billions of tax dollars.
But shouldn’t veterans issues be front and center? After all, we know our treatment of veterans is linked to our ability to recruit new troops as far back as George Washington. According to Washington:
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
Thus, treatment of veterans is a national security issue.
Someone should point out to Congress that we cannot defend our nation with football teams and baseball players. No, it takes real bravery to take a bullet for people you’ve never met halfway across the world. And, we veterans were willing to do this while making the equivalent of chicken feed when compared with the bloated salaries of American athletes.
On this subject, one veteran wrote in yesterday:
“I am a strong supporter of having Congress swear in the VA officials when they testify before Congressional committees. When a pro athlete is called before Congress to testify about steroid use in pro sports, they are sworn in and prosecuted if they lie. Is steroid use in pro sports more important than veteran deaths in VA medical facilities? I don’t think so.”
If you think this matter is something that burns your gullet, there is something you can do.
Sign on to a petition from MoveOn.org calling on Congress to change the status quo called, Stop the VA from Lying.